Category Archives: suffering

  1. Good fences make good neighbors? (Luke 16.19-31) [sermon 3-26-2017]

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    March 24, 2017 by jmar198013

    The rich man—who was used to getting his way—wouldn’t let up. “No, Father Abraham!” he argued. “But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will change their hearts and lives.” Abraham said, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, then neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” And that gives the story a new twist. Because we know Jesus, the one telling the story, would himself rise from the dead later. But even that wouldn’t convince a lot of people. When you invest yourself in getting more stuff, gaining more status, and winning at any cost—like the Pharisees—you become blind to many things.

  2. Falling towers and fruitless fig trees (Luke 13.1-9, 31-35) [sermon 3-12-17]

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    March 8, 2017 by jmar198013

    The story of this fig tree receiving special attention—extravagant mercy and generosity—calls us all to see ourselves as that tree. Like Jesus said elsewhere: “Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much.” We’ve been given much. Maybe we need to see a warning hidden in all our blessings: a judgment is coming if we don’t bear fruit worthy of repentance.

  3. Dreams and schemes (Gen. 37.3-8, 17b-22, 26-34; 50.15-21; Luke 6.35) [sermon 09-25-2016]

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    September 22, 2016 by jmar198013

    Joseph had big dreams. His brothers had twisted schemes. But God had dreams and schemes of his own.

  4. The resurrection of Job (Job 42.7-17) [Sermon 08-07-2016]

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    August 5, 2016 by jmar198013

    Job 42.7-17 describes Job’s restoration to life–I like to call it a resurrection–after an intense period of loss and suffering, and a crisis of faith. God calls Job to intervene for his accusing friends with sacrifice and prayer. Job is restored when he does this priestly duty.

    Job is restored to life and the human vocation–to be God’s priests, representing God in his earthly temple. God blesses Job as Job chooses to embrace life with all its risk. Job takes back up the human vocation to be fertile and multiply; and take charge of the beasts. So God blesses him with ten children, and double the animals he had before.

    Job’s restoration gives us all hope for the time described in Rev. 21. When the heavens and earth will be renewed as God’s temple forever; God will wipe away all tears; and dwell among his people.

  5. The LORD answers Job (Job 31.35-37; 38.1-11) [Sermon 07-24-2016]

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    July 8, 2016 by jmar198013

    After Job suffered multiple injustices, he saw that the world is often not predictable, orderly, or fair. His eyes were opened to a world of unjust suffering. And he wanted to know why God allows such chaos and evil.

    God appears to Job in a whirlwind, and shows Job that God is not the author of chaos and evil. God has been fighting against the chaos, and working to restrain evil, from the beginning. And he challenges Job: “Gird up your loins like a man!” In other words, God calls Job to come off of his ash heap, and be involved in life. God calls Job to join him in the hard work of fighting against chaos, evil, and injustice.

  6. Stop the world and let me off! (Job 3.1-10; 4.1-9; 7.11-21) [Sermon 07-10-2016]

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    July 4, 2016 by jmar198013

    When Job spoke honestly to God about his suffering, Job’s friend Eliphaz tried to correct his theology. Instead of empathy, Eliphaz blamed Job for the tragedies that had befallen him.

    Seems like our culture is crawling with Eliphazes. Whenever we learn of some tragedy, Eliphaz is unleashed on social media–especially the comments sections! So many speak words of blame and shame.

    Perhaps we all need our theologies corrected. And perhaps that correction should begin with empathy.

  7. The LORD has given … and taken? (Job 1.1-22) [Sermon 07-03-2016]

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    June 29, 2016 by jmar198013

    After Job lost everything in a single day–his flocks, his herds, his household servants, and all ten of his children–he famously uttered these words: “The LORD has given. The LORD has taken. Bless the LORD’s name.” These words have become a classic expression of piety; a source of comfort for people suffering inexplicable evil; and even popular hymnody.

    But what if Job was wrong? Or at least, only half-right? And what if it’s okay that Job was wrong? Furthermore, what if the person telling the story wants us to know that Job is wrong?

    What if it wasn’t the LORD who took?

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